(updated with explanation)
x dominoes in single file
but if one sways one tiny bit
then one by one they all will fall
and on the next one’s back they’ll sit
as bricks in a misshapen wall.
To punish them for being obtuse
a crane lets loose its wrecking ball
projecting in to smash and bruise
the bricks, it overshoots. A train
of goods derails. Its store of fruits
go flying, rolling, down a drain
to hit a rat on its soft head.
It passes out with shock and pain
and drowns. And when they find him dead
his family plot their revenge.
‘Until that murderer is fed
a poisoned fruit we shall not rest!’
And so all fruits are turned in hand
to search for traces of that pledge.
A rat bite mark? A patch too tanned?
And when at first no sign is seen
they’re turned x times. Regardless, binned.
And so, in time, the trashcan teems
with peeled, uneaten, fruity rot.
The smell turns guilty noses green,
so daily, one must burn the lot.
Bleach is poured over the pile.
The fire, quickened, gets so hot
that blood will boil and turn to bile.
The pyre beckons. Fight it. Set
x+1 dominoes in single file
The dominoes are a metaphor for the rituals that are part of OCD, trying to keep at bay a chaotic reality and unwanted, unpleasant, often violent intrusive thoughts. The relentless rhyming scheme (a-b-a-b-c-b-c-d-c-d-e-d-e-…) is also an expression of this ‘compulsive’ part of OCD. In the poem, as in reality, the compulsions fail, and there is a plunge into the sufferer’s obsessions – in this case about contamination (from rats) and guilt (through having killed a rat, or even imagining having a killed a rat through a tenuous chain of events) as well as suicidal thoughts (self-immolation). The ending of x+1 suggests the cycle will repeat, but will be even more daunting next time. The title of the poem is a syllable by syllable rhyme with Obsessive Compulsive Order!